The Battle Over the American Classroom   2 comments

There is a battle going on for control of American classrooms.

It’s a battle about which many students, teachers and State School Board Members are still blissfully unaware.

It’s a battle between the rights of each individual and each locality, versus the collective, as defined by the United Nations and, now, even by the U.S. Dept. of Education.

It’s a battle for what gets planted in the mind of the child.

It’s a battle for constitutional, local control (of students’ standards, tests, and curriculum) versus worldwide control (with education to be determined by federal and global cooperatives without any significant local representation.)

It’s also a battle between teaching the traditional academics: reading, writing, math, science and history, versus teaching the United Nations’ Agenda 21, which envisions a new “education” –that many are calling indoctrination.

The new “education” marginalizes academics.

It calls itself “World Class Education” but it is only a communistic sameness of learning across all countries.  It prioritizes “sustainable development,” “Social Justice” (redistribution of global wealth), the “collective good,” “going green” and “global citizenship” far above teaching academics.

And it presents “climate change” as if it were a real and settled science.

     The Department of Education, sadly, has betrayed us, lining up with the United Nations in this battle.  Link: http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/vision-education-reform-united-states-secretary-arne-duncans-remarks-united-nations-ed

Today,  the battle for the rights over a child’s life and learning has hit the news in a new form, under the title of  a United Nations treaty for the Disabled.   But it’s the same fight.  It’s a fight for our children.  http://news.yahoo.com/republicans-oppose-vote-un-disability-treaty-223300511.html

In the U.N. Disability treaty, the word “disability” is fuzzily defined.  Not really defined.  It uses an “evolving” definition.  Slippery!  Does “disabled’ mean a child with a mental handicap, including dyslexia or another common academic struggle?  Does it mean someone with a missing finger? A missing leg? A missing tooth?  And why should the government be the one to determine what is in such a child’s best interests, over the parents’ feelings?  This is a slippery slope of giving another sacred, hard-won American freedom, of parental rights over the child, utterly away.

This United Nations treaty poses as a helpful move, to ensure rights for the disabled, but what it really does is make the government, and not the parents, decision makers about what is in the best interest of a child, including whether home schooling is legal.

That provision, in the words of Rick Santorum, is “a direct assault on us and our family.”

Some also say that the treaty calls for people with disabilities to have “access to the same sexual and reproductive health programs as others” which means it might be linked to abortion.

So often, what starts off as an apparently  kindly socialistic “access to” a thing, soon becomes compulsory.

Former Utah Supreme Court Justice Dallin H. Oaks ruled that:

“Family autonomy helps to assure the diversity characteristic of a free society.  There is no surer way to preserve pluralism than to allow parents maximum latitude in rearing their own children.  Much of the rich variety in American culture has been transmitted from generation to generation by determined parents who were acting against the best interest of their children, as defined by official dogma.  Conversely, there is no surer way to threaten pluralism than to terminate the rights of parents who contradict officially approved values imposed by reformers empowered to determine what is in the ‘best interest’ of someone else’s child.”

—Dallin Oaks’ point is so vital.  Parents’ idea of what is in the best interest of their children does NOT necessarily match the “official dogma” of governments. 

No education reformers –U.S. Dept. of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, President Obama, Pearson CEA Sir Michael Barber, Bill Ayers, UNESCO– have the right to determine what is in the best interest of someone else’s child.  Period.

Arne Duncan’s 2010 speech exposes the U.S. Dept. of Education’s stance: that education should be the same everywhere, globally, and that competition and innovation is of the past.  Listen to this communist speak.  He is our U.S. Secretary of Education.  He is in charge of American K-12 children.  He even quotes Sir Michael Barber as if that’s a good thing.

“It is an absolute honor to address UNESCO. During the last 65 years, UNESCO has done so much to advance the cause of education and gender equity…   The promise of universal education was then a lonely beacon—a light to guide the way to peace and the rebuilding of nations across the globe. Today, the world… faces a crisis of a different sort, the global economic crisis. And education is still the beacon lighting the path forward—perhaps more so today than ever before.

Education is still the key to eliminating gender inequities, to reducing poverty, to creating a sustainable planet… education is the new currency…

… the Obama administration has an ambitious and unified theory of action that propels our agenda. The challenge of transforming education in America cannot be met by quick-fix solutions or isolated reforms. It can only be accomplished with a clear, coherent, and coordinated vision of reform.

Second, while America must improve its stagnant educational and economic performance, President Obama and I reject the protectionist Cold War-era assumption that improving economic competitiveness is somehow a zero-sum game, with one nation’s gain being another country’s loss.

I want to make the case to you today that enhancing educational attainment and economic viability, both at home and abroad, is really more of a win-win game; it is an opportunity to grow the economic pie, instead of carve it up.

As President Obama said in his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo last year, “Any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail.”

There is so much that the United States has to learn from nations with high-performing education systems… I am convinced that the U.S. education system now has an unprecedented opportunity to get dramatically better. Nothing—nothing—is more important in the long-run to American prosperity than boosting the skills and attainment of the nation’s students… Closing the achievement gap and closing the opportunity gap is the civil rights issue of our generation. One quarter of U.S. high school students drop out or fail to graduate on time. Almost one million students leave our schools for the streets each year. That is economically unsustainable and morally unacceptable.

One of the more unusual and sobering press conferences I participated in last year was the release of a report by a group of top retired generals and admirals. Here was the stunning conclusion of their report: 75 percent of young Americans, between the ages of 17 to 24, are unable to enlist in the military today because they have failed to graduate from high school…   education is taking on more and more importance around the globe. In the last decade, international competition in higher education and the job market has grown dramatically…

Yet there is also a paradox at the heart of America’s efforts to bolster international competitiveness.

To succeed in the global economy, the United States, just like other nations, will have to become both more economically competitive and more collaborative.

In the information age, more international competition has spawned more international collaboration. Today, education is a global public good unconstrained by national boundaries.

… economic interdependence brings new global challenges and educational demands…. America alone cannot combat terrorism or curb climate change. To succeed, we must collaborate with other countries.

These new partnerships must also inspire students to take a bigger and deeper view of their civic obligations—not only to their countries of origin but to the betterment of the global community. A just and socially responsible society must also be anchored in civic engagement for the public good.

…Yet even as the United States works to strengthen its educational system, it is important to remember that advancing educational attainment and achievement everywhere brings benefits not just to the U.S. but around the globe. In the knowledge economy, education is the new game-changer driving economic growth.

Education, as Nelson Mandela says, “is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

From Indonesia to Pakistan to Kenya, education has immeasurable power to promote growth and stability. It is absolutely imperative that the United States seize the opportunity to help Haiti build a stronger school system from the ruins of its old, broken one—just as America coalesced to build a fast-improving, vibrant school system in New Orleans after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.

…Educating girls and integrating them into the labor force is especially critical to breaking the cycle of poverty. It is hard to imagine a better world without a global commitment to providing better education for women and youth—including the 72 million children who do not attend primary school today.

And don’t forget that a better-educated world would be a safer world, too… My department has been pleased to partner with the U.S. Agency for International Development to help ensure that our best domestic practices are shared world-wide.

The United States provides over a billion dollars annually to partner countries working on educational reform.

Our goal for the coming year will be to work closely with global partners, including UNESCO, to promote qualitative improvements and system-strengthening…

Ultimately, education is the great equalizer. It is the one force that can consistently overcome differences in background, culture, and privilege…

Now, it is true that not all will share equally in the benefits of the knowledge economy. College-educated workers will benefit the most. That makes President Obama’s 2020 goal, the goal of once again having the highest proportion of college graduates, all the more central to building U.S. competitiveness.

… President Obama, a progressive president… wants to improve teacher evaluation…The President and I both recognize that improving educational outcomes for students is hard work with no easy answers. And transformational reform especially takes time in the United States…

The North Star guiding the alignment of our cradle-to-career education agenda is President Obama’s goal that, by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. That goal can only be achieved by creating a strong cradle-to-career continuum that starts with early childhood learning and extends all the way to college and careers.

In the U.S., early learning has come into its own. It is now recognized as the first and most critical stage in human development. We have a special opportunity today to build a bigger and better coordinated system of early care and education that prepares children for success in school and life—in place of a system with uneven quality and access.

…Tragically, low-income and minority students do not have equitable access to effective teachers in the United States. Too often, the children who need the most help get the least. Too often, we perpetuate poverty and social failure—and that has got to stop.

…The United States cannot substantially boost graduation rates and promise a world-class education to every child without ending the cycle of failure in the lowest-performing five percent of our schools. Year after year, and in some cases for decades, these schools cheated children out of the opportunity for an excellent education. As adults, as educators, as leaders, America passively observed this educational failure with a complacency that is deeply disturbing.

Fewer than 2,000 high schools in the United States—a manageable number—produce half of all its dropouts. These “dropout factories” produce almost 75 percent—three-fourths—of our dropouts from the minority community, our African-American and Latino boys and girls.

…Our vision of reform takes account of the fact that, in several respects, the governance of education in the United States is unusual. Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy.

Before the 1960s, almost all policymaking and education funding was a state and local responsibility. In the mid-1960s, the federal role expanded to include enforcing civil rights laws to ensure that poor, minority, and disabled students, as well as English language learners, had access to a high-quality education.

As the federal role in education grew, so did the bureaucracy. All too often, the U.S. Department of Education operated more like a compliance machine, instead of an engine of innovation. The department typically focused on ensuring that formula funds reached their intended recipients in the proper fashion. It focused on inputs—not educational outcomes or equity.

The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more to support reform and innovation in states, districts, and local communities. While the vast majority of department funding is still formula funding, the Recovery Act created additional competitive funding like the high-visibility $4.35 billion Race to the Top program and the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund, which we call i3.

I’ve said that America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform. And this is very much a revolution driven by leaders in statehouses, state school superintendents, local lawmakers, district leaders, union heads, school boards, parents, principals, and teachers.

To cite just one example, the department’s Race to the Top Program challenged states to craft concrete, comprehensive plans for reforming their education systems. The response was nothing less than extraordinary. Forty-six states submitted applications—and the competition drove a national conversation about education reform. Thirty-two states changed specific laws that posed barriers to innovation. And even states that did not win awards now have a state roadmap for reform hammered out. [UTAH]

The i3 program also had a phenomenal response. The $650 million i3 fund offered support to school districts, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher education to scale-up promising practices.

…I said earlier that the United States now has a unique opportunity to transform our education system in ways that will resonate for decades to come. Last year and this year, the federal government provided unprecedented funds to support education and reform.

…In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to “develop standards and assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity.” Virtually everyone thought the president was dreaming.

But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted [state-crafted] Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it. Over three-fourths of all U.S. public school students now reside in states that have voluntarily adopted higher, common… standards… That is an absolute game-changer …

The second game-changer is that states have banded together in large consortia to develop a new generation of assessments aligned with the states’ Common Core standards. In September, I announced the results of the department’s $350 million Race to the Top assessment completion to design this next generation of assessments.

Two state consortiums, which together cover 44 states and the District of Columbia, won awards. These new assessments will have much in common with the first-rate assessments now used in many high-performing countries outside the U.S. When these new assessments are in use in the 2014-15 school year, millions of U.S. schoolchildren, parents, and teachers will know, for the first time, if students truly are on-track for colleges and careers.

For the first time, many teachers will have the assessments they have longed for…

    Sir Michael Barber’s book, Instruction to Deliver, reminds us that the unglamorous work of reform matters enormously…

…we are committed to establishing a different relationship with the 50 states—one more focused on providing tailored support to improve student outcomes.

… America has a great deal to learn from the educational practices of other countries…

…I welcome this international dialogue, which is only beginning. In December, in Washington, I will join the OECD Secretary General for the global announcement of the 2009 PISA results. In March, we will be sponsoring an International Summit on the Teaching Profession

Thinking of the future as a contest among nations vying for larger pieces of a finite economic pie is a recipe for protectionism and global strife. Expanding educational attainment everywhere is the best way to grow the pie for all…”   – U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, 2010 speech

Full text:

http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/vision-education-reform-united-states-secretary-arne-duncans-remarks-united-nations-ed

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2 responses to “The Battle Over the American Classroom

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  1. You touched on the role of the UN in all this education and child-control mess. I’ve got a few thoughts to share on this.

    UN treaties all sound good, they sound nice, but they have a common insidious purpose: to make every individual an obedient subordinate of the state, and nothing more. The people who run the show at the UN are radically anti-family. They see families as the source of all oppression in the world, as a hindrance to the advancement of women, and the obstacle to the progression of all children.

    If you’re a normal person, you read the UN-speak, and you think, “Well, those sound like nice things we’d want to do.” But you have to think like a government-loving, conformity-minded UN official to understand that when, for example, the CRPD says “States Parties shall take all necessary measures to ensure the full enjoyment by children with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children,” and, “In all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration,” that means that a government official – or more likely a group of government officials, so no one has to take full responsibility – gets to decide what’s in the best interest of your child, not that you as parents will be protected in making that decision.

    One of the things the UN has determined is a “human right” is “access to full reproductive services” at age 10. That would be contraception and abortion, among other things. And if the UN has determined that these are human rights, and “States Parties are to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights of children with disabilities” (this is where they’re getting their foot in the door, before coming after the rest of the kids), then if you’re a religious parent who doesn’t think your 10-year-old should be exposed to, let’s just say, stories about homosexual acts, too bad for you. The state needs to protect the “best interests” of your child, and your religious views are getting in the way of their full development, so sit down and shut up.

    And it seriously is that way. Most people are good by nature, and that makes it hard to believe the level of evil that thrives in the halls of the UN, the level of bitterness and anger that many of the movers and shakers there carry with them and transfuse into the ideas and policies they promote.

  2. Autumn, thank you for your insightful comment. The U.N. and now the U.S. Dept. of Education really do want parents to –as you put it– “sit down and shut up” but we do so at the peril of our children and grandchildren. It is time to stand up and to be very vocal about our sacred freedoms and rights.

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